Tree Without Roots is a novel by Syed Waliullah (1922-1971) whose title carries the central theme of this work. The title indicates the rootlessness and hypocrisy of the protagonist Majeed. The novelist also tries to show the rootless condition of village people.
Hypocrisy of Majeed
A tree without roots is considered dead. Roots are the main source of a tree’s survival. It helps the tree to stick to the soil. In the novel Tree Without Roots, we can consider Majeed as a tree and the Mazar as his roots. He cheats on the people by establishing the Mazar. He establishes his business based on the Mazar. This Mazar is the source of his livelihood. But his roots are fake. He makes this Mazar for his own interest.
More Notes: Tree without roots
Majeed himself holds the meaning of the title
The character of Majeed himself holds the meaning of the title. He is foreshadowed as a tree without its roots. We can evaluate this character as rootless from two points of view: one point is that Majeed is a financially rootless man who comes from another village in search of food and shelter. Another point is that he is a spiritually rootless man. He makes people aware of God’s fear whereas he doesn’t fear God. He is a shrewd man and plans to deceive the villagers. By doing this, he tries to survive his own existence. He makes people stupid using religion. He gives advice to poor people to follow religious rules. On the other hand, he himself doesn’t follow religious instructions. In this novel, Majeed suffers from an existential crisis several times. He is a man of nothingness. He always tries to cover his rootlessness with his tricks and misusing religion.
The Mazar is associated with the title
Figuratively, the Mazar itself is a tree without roots. Majeed declares a random grave as Mazar. He alerts the villagers that it is a grave of a great saint and they should respect that. He covers the grave with red cloth. The villagers even don’t know what exists under the cloth. No one questions the power of the Mazar. Furthermore, people go there and pray for their development. They devote different types of things and money as well. It brings income for Majeed. They worship a tomb that doesn’t have any actual existence or identity.
The logical connection of the title with the villagers
The conditions of villagers also justify the title of this novel. The people of Mohabbatpur village are poor and illiterate. They don’t have any knowledge of anything. They just lead their lives on rootless belief. They believe in religious superstitions. They go to Maktab but learn nothing about religion or life. A famous quotation from Waliullah,
“There are more tupees than heads of cattle ,more tupees than sheaves of grass”,
Majeed takes advantage of their ignorance. They follow his every advice blindly without any question. He becomes the ruler of the village. The villagers support the idea of Mazar. Majeed convinces them to build a Maktab instead of a school. Whoever tries to go against him, he punishes them. Khaleque’s wife Amena and an old man become the victims of his hypocrisy. If the villagers have strong roots of belief, they will never surrender under the spell of Majeed.
To sum up, the novelist depicts the rootlessness of the central character and his activities throughout the novel. Here, the title of Tree Without Roots is perfectly justified as it upholds the whole theme appropriately.